Going-out-of-business sales at local Pet Valu stores began Thursday after the retail chain specializing in pet food, supplies, and services said it would close all U.S. locations because of the pandemic.

Customers with Pet Valu gift cards are encouraged to use those by Dec. 13, but the cards are expected to remain valid until the stores fully close.

“The pandemic accelerated the demise of many retailers,” said Subodha Kumar, professor of marketing at Temple’s Fox School of Business. “Pet Valu wasn’t as dynamic as its competitors” such as PetSmart and Petco. Pet Valu also had more physical locations, which hurt the chain because of the growing importance of online sales, he said.

Pet Valu stores remain open until Jan. 6, including the 45 locations in the Philadelphia region, from Warrington to Somerdale, N.J.

But Pet Valu’s online purchases have shut down. All purchases must be made in person at a store or by pickup, as deliveries also have ended.

The privately held retailer of pet food and supplies is closing all 358 stores and warehouses, as well as its corporate office in Wayne.

“The Pet Valu U.S. team is proud to have met the needs of our devoted pet lover customers in the U.S. for more than 25 years,” Jamie Gould, newly appointed chief restructuring officer, said in a statement.

“However, the company’s stores have been significantly impacted by the protracted COVID-19-related restrictions. After a thorough review of all available alternatives, we made the difficult but necessary decision to commence this orderly wind down.”

Kumar at Fox Business School said consumer spending on pet supplies and food actually increased among 34% of those surveyed by LendingTree and stayed the same among 17% of pet owner consumers.

“The pandemic inspired new services. Petco had curbside pickup, for example. Pet Valu, on the other hand, was more about bringing your pet in the store for an experience. They were slow to react,” Kumar said.

In 2021, uncertainty surrounding the pandemic could lead to a drop in consumer spending on pets, according to one report by S&P Global on a rival company, PetSmart, which also owns the website Chewy.com.

“The path of the pandemic remains uncertain and could lead to changes in consumer discretionary spending that negatively affect PetSmart,” S&P wrote.

Government stimulus expired at the end of July with no clear plan for more, and U.S. unemployment remains elevated, which could lead to a pullback in discretionary spending.

While pet purchases are somewhat stable, “we would expect the company’s sales of hard goods and specialty merchandise, which are currently strong sales categories for PetSmart, to moderate in a weaker consumer spending environment,” S&P added.

Pet Valu U.S. licensed its name from Pet Valu Canada, which is a separate company based in Markham, Ontario, and which was not planning any closures. Pet Valu Canada operates roughly 600 stores, franchise locations, and an e-commerce site.

Pet Valu was owned by Roark Capital, an Atlanta‐based private equity firm with $19 billion in assets under management. Roark focuses on investments in consumer and business service companies and purchased Pet Valu in 2009.